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The noisy and supportive crowd, who roared the Pirates on in another decisive second half – may well have adjourned to the bar to discover they now had no nails.
But at least they knew that a proper job had been done, against a resilient and dangerous Hartpury side – setting up in the process – a mouth-watering visit to Ealing next week. A fixture that now will decide who – of the two rivals – will go into the final round of fixtures next week, as contenders still, for the Championship Title.
Wing, Callum Sirker’s, 73rd minute deciding score in the Old Western National Corner – was the moment that fans’ digits could be lowered from mouths. But the preceding seventy odd clicks – particularly the first forty – most certainly didn’t go according to plan.
The afternoon began however, with a fitting tribute to Pirate legends’ – Alvin Williams & Cliff Grenville – as pre-chewed hands came together in unison for sixty, reflective seconds.
And then on to this latest, must win game for the Cornish hosts.
A strong but variable wind, mainly blowing in from the Mount – but not exclusively – favoured the visitors at kick off. And from the moment Hartpury’s James Williams’ kick off towards the Newlyn End, it was clear they knew what they had to do, to capitalise. Five minutes in and with an early penalty chipped into the Newlyn Gate Corner – from the moment their pack had gathered – there was only going to be one outcome. Harry Short’s prostrate body under a pile of red shirts opened the scoring – albeit with the extras drifting away from the uprights.
Credit where it was due however as the Pirates’ response was immediate – and effective. Two tries in three minutes – from try machine & 150 caps up, Tom Channon & skipper Tom Duncan – for a moment it seemed as if the Cornishmen would kick on.
Don’t be so presumptuous Woll – as Hartpury impressively did the exact same thing, before the first quarter was even up. Will Britton’s copycat dot down in the Newlyn Gate – whilst George Simpson capitalised on some generosity from his pack, who graciously allowed the wing, the honour of scoring their third try – in three visits to the Pirate ’22’.
Their 19-12 advantage remained until the break – as the Pirates at least found ways of containing their opponents’ probes towards the Red Zone.
The need for a quick turnaround of fortunes after the break came, as the hosts opened the second period with intent. They came close only two minutes in as a strong move ended up being held up over the line.
The ensuing goal line drop out briefly suggested respite for Hartpury. But a resultant scrum on halfway produced a penalty for the Pirates – and then a further 10 metres for some lip. Arwel Robson’s touch finder took play up to just outside the visitors’ ’22’ and noise levels rose markedly in the stands.
Momentum was now shifting to the men in black. Josh Caulfield came mightily close – which set up Hog nicely for his second of the afternoon. Robson’s conversion to level things was pretty much a given.
More noise from the stands and more pressure came soon after – courtesy of some fine interplay between Robin Wedlake & Tommy Wyatt to take play back into Hartpury’s ’22’. The visitors were by now creaking and a penalty into the corner spelt trouble – as the Pirates sought to emulate them in the Newlyn Gate Corner. Seconds later and skipper, Tom Duncan had added a second try himself. That crucial bonus point now also in the bag.
The Pirates now lead – but it was clear that a fifth try would surely be needed. A quarter of an hour passed without joy. But then some swift and slick handing in the Cornish backline produced the goods for Callum to duly deliver with seven minutes only remaining.
The clock ticked relentlessly for the visitors to respond to affect the outcome. But press they did in search of two, thoroughly deserved bonus points of their own. As if on cue, Xavier Hastings did just this – as the Pirates inadvertantly infringed sufficiently, for Duncs – and then our own Man in Black, Sam Rodman, to put their feet up for the last few minutes.